We’re now in our 5th hostel in New Zealand – the Old Slaughterhouse, in Hector. It’s almost as far up the West Coast as you can go, just above Westport, where everybody turns off to reach the rest of the island. Its much quieter up here than elsewhere, because the only reason to drive past is to reach the end of Heaphy Walking Track, a 70km walk that starts just north of here.
The Old Slaughterhouse has to be one of the most unusual hostels we’ve found anywhere – its perched on a hillside, about 250 metres above the road, and there’s no road running to it. Instead, you walk up through the bush, for about 10 minutes, before emerging at the front door of the wooden building. (If you look at the photo below, you’ll see Charlotte and Sarah making their way up the track to the hostel – it helps give an idea of scale!Fortunately the owner has a four-wheel motorbike, which he whizzes up and down a separate dirt track, carrying our rucksacks.
The accommodation is a huge house, which is the home of David the owner as well as being the hostel lounge, kitchen and toilets. The bedrooms are in two separate buildings, set above on the hillside, with views across the Tasman Sea to Cape Foulwind and Karamea. At least, there would be views if the weather had allowed it. But today was grey, and tremendously windy, so we spent the day inside, reading, writing and playing. Everybody in the hostel was in the same mood, so the room looked as if it was full of human pillows, just resting on the sofas in the same place all day.